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Wild bird precautions for avian flu

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TWRA is urging new precautions as reported cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) increase among wild birds, backyard domestic flocks, and commercial poultry flocks in the Southeast. HPAI is highly contagious among bird populations and is known to be deadly for domestic fowl. 

“Since March 2022, Tennessee has confirmed 28 cases of HPAI in wild birds, including 26 ducks, a Canada Goose, and a Bald Eagle,” said TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Chief Joe Benedict. “We urge homeowners and hunters to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease in Tennessee and to protect wildlife and poultry populations.” 

Recommendations for Hunters

Hunters who handle wild birds should dress game birds in the field when possible and remains from processed birds can be buried where the animal was harvested or double bagged and disposed along with normal household waste. 

Waterfowl hunters who raise poultry, work on poultry farms, or visit poultry farms should change all outer layers of their hunting clothing, including boots, before entering any poultry facilities. 

Clothing should be laundered as soon as possible to prevent contamination, and boots should be treated with a 10 percent bleach solution before and after entering commercial or backyard poultry facilities to prevent the virus being transferred to new locations. 

Recommendations for Homeowners

Watchable wildlife, including songbirds can also be affected by HPAI. Homeowners should stop feeding birds and cover bird baths, if dead birds are found, until this wildlife mortality event subsides. 

Clean up any excess feed that has spilled or was placed onto the ground, and clean feeders and bird baths with a 10 percent bleach solution. 

Avoid contact with any dead or dying bird. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and other birds. 

Report dead or dying bird sightings to TWRA at https://www.tn.gov/twra/sick-birds.html. Community-based reporting supports the early detection of disease and bird health monitoring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitors for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and migratory wild bird populations. TWRA submits wild bird test results to USDA for monitoring purposes and coordinates with Tennessee Department of Agriculture Veterinarians for disease management. 

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